2023 Record: 5-5, 5th in the PLL, lost in Quarterfinals
2024 Draft Picks: 4th overall, 12th overall, 20th overall, 28th overall
Offensive Efficiency: 30.8%, 3rd in the PLL
Defensive Efficiency: 28.3%, 4th in the PLL
Pending Free Agents:
Chaos have been tough to get a read on. One on hand, their regular season results are up and down. And the down has been heavy at times. Some of that is the result of missing players to start the year. But the metric by which teams are most often judged in pro sports - postseason success - is a metric where the Chaos excel. They have played in the championship in each of the last three seasons, taking home the title in 2021. They always put things together at the right time.
This year, they finished 5-5, with a narrowly positive goal differential. They had wins over the Cannons, Archers, and Redwoods, three of the top four teams in the league. But while they usually peak late, the Chaos stumbled late. They lose two of their last three regular season games, the one win being a final week victory over the white flag waving Chrome. They were thoroughly beaten by the Redwoods in the Quarterfinals. They dealt with some challenging injuries, most notably to Josh Byrne, but that’s something every team deals with.
Chaos season was a bit up and down as some weeks, they looked like the best team in the league. Their losses were twice to the Waterdogs, twice to the Whipsnakes, and once to the Woods. Coach Towers has been clear that he spends some time in the regular season tinkering with the lineup to see all 25 of his players in game action. Changing the lineup every week can lead to some up and down performances, but ideally leads to a 19 man that is solidly defensible, and clearly the best, group for the biggest games of the year. In the past, it led the Chaos to the title game. This year it didn’t go that way.
The Chaos don’t need much. They nailed the draft a year ago, getting Will Bowen at the end of round one, plus adding offensive depth with Tye Kurtz and shoring up the faceoff spot with Nick Rowlett late. Their defensive personnel is outstanding, and was only bolstered by the addition of Bowen, who already runs a defense like a veteran. Blaze Riorden is still in net, Jack Rowlett is still on the defense, and the offense still has Josh Byrne and Dhane Smith. It’s a special group. There are a few considerations for Chaos.
Byrne, Rowlett, Riorden, and Dhane Smith are all set to hit free agency after the 2024 season. Positioning the roster to keep them all might be difficult, but it’s time to start planning for that now. If that means extending them now, it’s worth doing, although it may cost other players in free agency to make it all happen. Chaos players have worked together to stay together before, it’s time to start thinking about what that looks like for this foursome.
Second, the Chaos have always had a crew of players they grab from the pool at the start of the season as a result of NLL/PLL overlap. If the Bandits make the finals, it means a number of players aren’t available. If there is a depth available to help with those players missing, it makes sense to add it. They’ve already done this a bit by drafting Brian Minicus, who can be a primary weapon while the NLL stars are away. Another player or two who can play at attack or the midfield effectively isn’t crazy.
Last year, they lost Mac O’Keefe and Challen Rogers on the open market. But part of their approach is that not only does Coach Towers love all his guys and works to find ways to keep everyone, these guys all love being on this team together and want to stay together. I was told that some Chaos players actually left some money on the table in order to keep as much of the roster together as possible. It’ll be hard to do with this list of players. Most of the league will have interest in a guy like Ian Mackay. Chase Fraser and Chris Cloutier may want to look at clubs where they’ll be every week starters. That seems unlikely though, as just by virtue of the fact that they are still on the Chaos suggests they don’t care as much about being on the 19 every week. The names to watch are on the defensive end. CJ Costabile is entering year 13. Johnny Surdick has military obligations and appears in the 19 man less frequently. Some defensive reinforcements either in free agency, or the draft, could be wise.
Picking 4th means the Chaos will be just on the outside of the O’Neill/Shellenberger/Kavanagh holy trinity at the top of the board. The Chaos clearly have a favorite type of player and person that they want in their locker room, and they are uncompromising on their standards. Their draft choices are likely informed by what happens in free agency. Where they lose, or sign, players impacts what they do in the draft. If they are basically running it back and looking for reinforcements, then there are a few obvious targets just based on skill set. Levi Anderson, who they drafted last year but lost because Anderson returned to school, Dyson Williams, who will be the top pick in the NLL draft, will be obvious players on the radar. Another player to watch is Toron Eccelston, who transferred to St Joseph’s from Lenoir-Rhyne this year. He’s got the skill set that fits well with the Chaos: big body, box background, highly skilled, and a pass first player.